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"China's HEU and Plutonium Production and Stocks"

"China's HEU and Plutonium Production and Stocks"

Journal Article, Science & Global Security, volume 19, issue 1, pages 68-89

January-April 2011

Author: Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


This article discusses the history of China’s production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons and uses new public information to estimate the amount of highly enriched uranium and plutonium China produced at its two gaseous diffusion plants and two plutonium production complexes. The new estimates in this article are that China produced 20 +/- 4 tons of HEU, 2 +/- 0.5 tons of plutonium, and currently has stockpiles of about 16 +/- 4 tons of HEU and 1.8 +/- 0.5 tons of plutonium available for weapons. The values for China’s fissile material production are at the low end of most previous independent estimates, which range from 17–26 tons of highly enriched uranium and 2.1–6.6 tons of plutonium. These new estimates would be significant to assess China’s willingness to join a fissile material cutoff treaty and a multilateral nuclear disarmament.


Author Posting. (c) 'Taylor & Francis Group, LLC', 2011.

This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of 'Taylor & Francis Group, LLC' for personal use, not for redistribution.  The definitive version was published in Science & Global Security, Volume 19 Issue 1, January 2011. doi:10.1080/08929882.2011.566469 (


For more information about this publication please contact the MTA Program Assistant at 617-495-4219.

For Academic Citation:

Zhang, Hui. "China's HEU and Plutonium Production and Stocks." Science & Global Security 19, no. 1 (January-April 2011): 68-89.

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